Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Legendary Udo Kier Celebrates Canada Day in 'My Winnipeg' with 'Keyhole' Cast

Yours truly with legendary actor Udo Kier and Lorraine James (R)
Celebrating Canada Day at "The Esterhaus", July 1, 2010
Winnipeg, Canada

It's not everyday you get to celebrate Canada Day in my Winnipeg with the incomparable cult fav Udo Kier, star of such films as: Blood For Dracula, Flesh For Frankenstein, and My Own Private Idaho.

Jonathan and Danishka Esterhazy
"The Esterhaus", Winnipeg, Canada

I attended the annual Esterhaus Canada Day Party hosted by Winnipeg's coolest couple -- rising-star filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy (Black Field, Infectious, The Snow Queen) and web developer Jonathan Esterhazy.

Upon my arrival I spotted a rooftop patio filled with beautiful people and a very distinguished guest wearing a dapper red Canada Day bowler hat. was the charming and ubercool Udo Kier! I was thrilled! I met the Palm Springs resident a couple of years ago at Helen Hunt's Then She Found Me Red Carpet Premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Kier is currently in Winnipeg playing the lead in beloved cult filmmaker Guy Maddin's latest film Keyhole which features a cast of old-school and new Maddin collaborators. After wrapping for the day, Kier and Montreal actor Louis Negin (My Winnipeg, Pontypool, The Saddest Music in the World) headed down to the exclusive (by invitation only) Esterhaus Par-tay which attracts a mix of artsy beautiful people -- local and international intellectuals, and creative types.

Actors Louis Negin (Montreal) and Lorraine James (Winnipeg)
"The Esterhaus", Winnipeg, Canada July 1, 2010

Actors, filmmakers, film crew, new media geeks and assorted arts types gather at the Esterhazys' trendy Artspace loft during the holidays -- to party, network and indulge in tasty vegan delights and trendy cocktails. Keyhole cast members Lorraine James (You Kill Me), Tyhr Trubiak (Faces in the Crowd; Fancy, Fancy Being Rich), the film's production manager Polly Washburn (Black Field), and filmmaker Aaron Floresco were spotted schmoozin' at rooftop and ground zero (hot tub) levels Thursday night. Danishka, is a former Maddin collaborator and worked as an associate producer on Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary.

Actor Tyhr Trubiak (Winnipeg)
"The Esterhaus", July 1, 2010
Winnipeg, Canada

With films like Brand Upon The Brain and Pages From A Virgin’s Diary (currently available on Netflix Watch Instantly), Guy Maddin has become one of today’s most globally recognized filmmakers with a huge following on both sides of the pond. Oh, and he's Telluride Film Festival's darling too. His last film, My Winnipeg, was one of his most beloved films.

It is a boom year for the local film and television industry here in Winnipeg. You can't walk far without bumping into a member of the film industry. Last week I ran into Maddin while he was picking up one of his cast members. He informed me that Keyhole would be his most ambitious project to date. He wasn't exaggerating!

After chatting at length with actors Kier and Negin I came to the quick conclusion that Maddin's project is an "epic event" and not a "feature film." Keyhole is an interactive choose-your-own adventure movie labyrinth. The feature length film is being shot concurrently with 120 short parallel "webisodes" which will be streamed online to pique interest. According to Negin, they are being shot on the same set and the same studio using some of the same actors.

"I'm remaking a lot of lost movies," Maddin told the Free Press. "All those directors from the first generation that straddled the silents and talkie period have one and sometimes 10 lost films," Maddin says.

"It's been haunting me my whole life and I figured the only way I'd ever get to see these things was if I just made my own versions of them," he says. "So a bunch of us are getting together and making, oh, about 1,028 lost films, some of them extremely short but some of them in the five- to 15-minute range.

The film also stars his long-time muse Isabella Rossellini, American actor Jason Patric (Speed 2, My Sister's Keeper) and Kids In The Hall alum Kevin McDonald.

Written by Maddin and his long-time collaborator George Toles, the screenplay is an Odyssian tale set within the confines of a house. Patric is Ulysses Pick, a gangster returning to his home after a long absence. Naturally, he is carrying a drowned girl, Denny, who has now come back to life and a bound-and-gagged hostage, who is actually his own teenage son. His odyssey is through his own house one room at a time until he arrives in the boudoir of his wife, Rossellini's Hyacinth.

"I've been haunted for years by dreams almost exclusively about architecture, buildings completely devoid of people. George and I figured out a way to make a film about the residents of a house that's every bit as much about the house itself, a movie in which setting and character are completely inseparable, ... each of these halves are in a constant state of haunting each other," Maddin told Playback Daily.

Asked how he came to cast Patric, Maddin said the two met at an Edward Hopper-esque diner in Illinois after a screening of James Foley's After Dark My Sweet. Both the film and the actor left a powerful impression on Maddin.

Maddin decided he would one day create a role for Patric. He added, "Given the right role, this guy can carry a movie, and its crew and all the picture vehicles and trailers behind him. Just harness him up and let him haul!"

The $1.2 million film is executive produced by Phyllis Laing of Buffalo Gal Pictures (Amreeka, The Stone Angel, The Saddest Music in the World) and distributed in Canada by E1 Entertainment. The project reunites Maddin with producer Jody Shapiro (My Winnipeg, Brand Upon the Brain).

If you happen to be visiting my Winnipeg this afternoon, Saturday July 3rd, be on the lookout for Udo Kier and Louis Negin. They'll be taking in Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Winnipeg. You may spot the duo near the Government House, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Scotia Bank Stage at The Forks where Her Majesty will deliver an address at the 'Manitoba Homecoming 2010 Concert for Human Rights' celebrating Manitoba's ethnocultural diversity and Her Majesty's visit.

Happy Canada Day and 4th of July! Have a fun and safe long weekend!

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